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New Car Tech Makes Roads Safer for Car Drivers, Motorcycle Riders

In many cities across Southeast Asia, motorbikes rule the roads. Compact, inexpensive and easy to use–in cities often congested with traffic–motorbikes are the lifeblood that keep people and goods moving. Whether used for personal transportation, as a taxi, a messenger service, or to deliver food and packages, motorbikes play a critical economic and mobility function in the region.

However, while motorbikes have opened the roads to everyone, they have also significantly contributed to a road safety epidemic in the region. According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries kill more than 300,000 people per year in Southeast Asia and account for 25 percent of all traffic deaths globally. In the Philippines, 56 percent of road fatalities are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

While there are several factors contributing to the problem–traffic congestion, lack of safety education and less than ideal road conditions–most accidents are simply a result of reckless driving and failing to comply with traffic laws. In cities like Manila, where traffic can also come to a standstill, it is common to see motorbikes riding on sidewalks meant for pedestrians or driving down the wrong way down one-way streets. More troubling, it is not unusual to see three or four people on a single motorbike.

A number of auto companies have developed new car-safety technologies that when applied help make the roads safer for everyone. For example, Ford is developing a spot lighting technology that uses an infrared camera to help detect pedestrians, cyclists and animals. The company’s Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting can help the driver when traveling in an unfamiliar area at night. For example, at roundabouts, it can make it easier to see exits, and spot whether unexpected hazards–like cyclists or pedestrians–are crossing the road.

“We recognize that driving in the Philippines can sometimes be a challenge, that’s why we continuously work to equip our class-defining vehicles with smart and safe features and technologies to help keep our customers safe in their daily journeys, especially when driving with motorbikes around,” said Bert Lessard, managing director, Ford Philippines.

Love them or hate them, motorbikes play an important role in the traffic eco-system of many cities and their popularity continues to rise. In the Philippines, motorbikes account for more than half of all registered vehicles, with millions more unregistered.

Since motorbikes are not going away any time soon and bad driving habits are not easily changed, new safety technologies offer the best hope of allowing drivers and motorbike riders to safely share roads.

Ford Explorer

Technology offers part of the solution

With the safety of everyone in mind, Ford has the Lane Keeping System in the Ford Everest and Ford Explorer. The system uses a camera mounted behind the windshield’s rear view mirror to monitor road lane markings and detect unintentional drifting toward the outside of a lane. If the camera detects an impending unintentional drift, the driver is warned in the instrument cluster display, and with a steering wheel vibration, it helps the driver keep the car in lane, avoiding bikers or other vehicles traveling in other lanes.

Meanwhile, the Ford Everest and the Ford Explorer offer the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) and BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert respectively, which work in combination with Ford’s other parking assistance technology such as rear-view cameras or 360-degree cameras. CTA uses two radar sensors to monitor the area behind and on either side of the vehicle while the transmission is in reverse. These systems use the audio system and the instrument cluster display to warn the driver if pedestrians, cars or motorbikes are detected.

More regulations from traffic authorities

Governments in the region have made efforts to help reverse the trend of road fatalities, including improving safety standards, such as the introduction of mandatory helmet laws.

However, some governments have proposed bans that most people think go too far and will have many serious implications for residents.

In the Philippines, there are ongoing discussions about how the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is considering banning motorbikes from EDSA, one of the main thoroughfares in the country, to curb the number of vehicles and road crash accidents that happen every year.

While there continues to be debate about these kinds of proposed restrictions, making the roads safe for all drivers and riders will take a range of measures – from increased driver education and improved roadways to new technologies that will keep cars safer for passengers.

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